Education & Debt: Doing It Right
Did you know, according to the American Institute of CPAs, 68% of Americans regret how they financed college. And, if they could do the college thing all over again, 35% of Millennials would delay starting college to build up savings and reduce need for loans. But wait a minute, if you are thinking about “Why should I go to college and have the same stress as most college graduates?”, here’s another insight for you: 68% of adults WITHOUT a degree said they would have gone to college to get a better paying job if they could do things over.
So the idea is NOT avoid college, but if you do decide to go, do it the right way and shoot for going to college loans free! To be honest with you, a very low percentage of college students graduate with no loans, but we know that happens because students don’t plan, or if they do, they don’t act thoroughly on graduating from college loans free.
We want to help you by going and graduating from college with zero loans! Here are some planning and solutions to accomplish this goal that so many struggle with and stress over for many years after graduation.
First things first, submit your Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) at www.fafsa.ed.gov by March 1st (no later than June 30th) to be enrolled in the Fall semester of that same year.
a. In order for you be able to apply, your eligibility is as follows:
i. You must graduate High School
ii. You must be enrolled or accepted to an accredited college
iii. You must have a valid Social Security Number
iv. Additionally, for male applicants only, you must be Registered with Selective Service (ONLY men between ages of 18 & 25)
You must not stop here. Another way to get free money to go to college is by applying for scholarships, which is always free money that is sent to your school on your behalf and you never have to pay it back!
Some places online where you can apply for scholarships are:
d. college board scholarship search
Additionally, you can take Advanced Placement classes, traditionally known as AP classes, to reduce your money spent in college classes. You can and should take these classes still while in high school. The benefit is that if you pass the exam for the subject you are taking, the college you are going to attend will take that class and accept the credits. This will reduce the overall time you are going to stay in college and lessen your tuition. This being for the fact that, for example, now you don’t need to take you Core English class in your freshman year. Now you don’t have to pay $1,500 to $5,000 for that single class or give your time to it. It is already out of the way!
It only gets better! Another exceptional way to reduce college tuition is to take CLEP exams, CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. The great benefit of the CLEP exams is that they help you earn college credits without taking college courses. Here is how it can be compared to the traditional route:
a. $80/course as opposed to $3000+/course
b. 2-3 hours as opposed to 4 months
Should you choose to go this route, you will save lots of money and time. If you take 4 CLEP exams and pass them, you could save $11,680+ and 16 months!
When students are accepted into a college, they will make another critical financial decision. And this one is the option to live on campus, off campus, or at home. Our suggestion is to live at home. By doing so, you can avoid spending on average per year an absurd amount of $10,000+ in room & board that most colleges will charge you. Mind you that this is an annual estimate. By the time you earn your undergraduate degree, you could save an additional $40,000.
The next solution is typically not the most accepted solution, but can be a smart decision. Another way to reduce your college cost is to consider going to a Community College.
a. It will only be for the first 2 years of your undergraduate degree; and
b. According to The College Board, the national average for this tuition and fees was only $2,713 per year in 2011, that costs less than 1 single class in a Four-Year college!
c. BUT here’s something really IMPORTANT about this decision, make sure you already have talked to the other university you are transferring to when finished at your community college and see if they will ACCEPT all of the credits from your community college to the new college/university you are transferring to. (Many students fail to do this and the result is that they must take some of those classes all over again at the college they are transferring to.)
Do truly the best you can to avoid loans. Only when absolutely necessary, take loans out, but NOT the full amount they offer you, only the necessary. REMEMBER, loans you have to pay back with interests. Scholarships and Grants are free money to go to college, hence you don't have to pay back.
When you enroll in college classes, you will need to buy supplies and textbooks. To reduce your costs, buy used textbooks. But if there is an option to rent a textbook that you will not use it again after the class is over, consider the option to rent that textbook. Past the four years of your undergraduate degree, you could potentially save $1000s. Make the smart move and think about your finances in the future.
Finally, another approach to saving big time money while going through your undergraduate degree is to work while in college. Besides the obvious fact that it will give you extra cash, it will also keep you distracted from spending more money, and it will give you better Time Management skills. For example, you know you will have to go to 3 classes during the day, then work 5 hours that same day. You have homework due in 2 days. This means you will be selective about your time and freedom. This approach will allow you to hit the books, because you know you don't have time for fun now because you have to turn in your homework.
There you have it, now you know how to go about your education and being debt free by the time you earn your undergraduate degree by doing it the right way. Should you need assistance, we can help you write down your specific plan and keep you accountable to accomplish your plans and goals. Now is the time, contact us today!